Why the Tree of Life?


Harvest Loaf

We baked the Harvest Loaf out of All Year Round on Friday. It is actually a loaf that goes with Michaelmas, but I thought it sounded really neat because you tell a story as you mix the ingredients. You create a landscape of hills and valleys with the flour and talk about how beautiful it is and how happy the people are. But then a dragon (the frothy yeast milk mixture in the measuring cup) comes and takes over the land, and creates a frozen wasteland (sprinkle salt and sugar). Much sadness all round until the hero (the Archangel Michael) throws stars (currants) from the heavens which become iron and sungold (egg yolk) to warm the land and defeat the dragon. All live and work and share happily ever after.

Sounds nice right?

First tip: when you intend to prepare by pre-reading the story the night before, do it (don't say, aw, nuts to that, I'm going to bed)... because you might notice that all the ingredients are in English metrics. How many cups are in 1 kg of wholemeal flour, you might ask. The answer would be 8, give or take. Because, if you don't notice this minor detail ahead of time, you will be dashing back and forth from the kitchen to the computer to look up 50g of sugar and 250g of currants (or was it the other way around?). Thank goodness an egg is an egg. Because, keep in mind, you will also be checking on the baby to be sure that she doesn't get ahold of any chokables while she is being neglected and also checking on the boys who are grinding eight cups of wheat berries on their own and unsupervised.

As you can see above, we did get all the ingredients together eventually, though it literally took all morning. The boys ground four cups on their own, and I finished off the last four.

Second tip: when the instructions say to memorize the story, memorize the story. Otherwise, you may get this:

Me (reading): There once was a beautiful land. No one could tell if the hills were more lovely, or the valleys were more lovely.
Kirven (looking out the window in the opposite direction): Mom, did you know that bulk collection is going to take the plastics first and then the rubber; that's why they left the tires.
Me (reading): And then a terrible dragon came over the land. Do you see the dragon, Kirven?
Dunagan: Can I do it? I'm doing it! I'm pouring! Let go, Mom!
Me: Ok (said with good cheer to Dunagan)
Kirven (still looking out the window in the opposite direction): huh? yeah, I see it. Did you know that the bulk collection is going to take our rubber later?

As you can see, it was a very magical moment. One filled with wonder and awe.

While the story didn't capture their imagination, and Kirven couldn't seemed to be bothered with any part of it (besides the grinding), Dunagan greatly enjoyed all the mixing and was up to his elbows in 'dough'.

Why the 'dough' in quotes?

Take a look at exhibit A:

Lovely, no? Granola doorstop.

I have the gainmill cranked down as far as I can while still being able to turn it. It should be spitting out flour. I'd say we got a ratio of dusty flour to crunchy, graininess of 2 to 5. When we had mixed it all up and were to the kneading part, it was not anywhere close to dough and wasn't sticking together. I added probably a couple cups of store-bought flour to get it to at least resemble a dough of some sort.

Kirven, again, wasn't the least bit interested as we waited for it to rise, though Dunagan enjoyed checking on it. And Kirven probably ate only one bite in total, whereas Dunagan has had numerous pieces, preferably stuffed in his mouth all at once.

What lessons have I learned here?
a) listen to my gut. Something told me to hold off on this project, and I should have listened.
b) read the instructions the night before!
c) do this project again (or another recipe), but write my own story that I know they will be interested in. They have no idea who the Archangel Michael is, and Michaelmas is not something we celebrate.

Now, I'm just debating throwing out the rest of the loaf or allowing Dunagan to continue eating on it for another day since he seems to be enjoying it.


  1. Thank you for posting this, because I now don't feel so alone in my experience of trying to do INTERESTING projects with the kids and have them either not go according to plan or have one kid (usually the eldest) on his own wavelength.
    Good for you for trying, and for learning from the experience!

  2. LOL, Jennifer, thanks SO much for the laugh this morning!! This is how I'm feeling about my entire first math block so far!!! Sounds like a great idea, tho, and I'll probably bounce off of it when we get to bread baking this winter.

  3. Jennifer, did they ever pickup the tirers.

    Love Dad

  4. Dad,

    They did NOT, in fact, pick up the tires.